Centenarians in Himachal: After late Shyam Negi, 105-year-old woman casts vote

Updated on Nov 12, 2022 02:20 PM IST

Despite the ECI providing a voluntary facility to all 80 plus voters to vote via ballot papers at their homes, Naro Devi preferred to exercise her franchise via the EVM at the polling station.

Naro Devi, aged 105, voted at the polling booth in Churah assembly constituency in Chamba.
Naro Devi, aged 105, voted at the polling booth in Churah assembly constituency in Chamba.
By, New Delhi

A 105-year-old voter, Naro Devi, cast her vote in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday in the ongoing single-phase assembly election. She was pictured exercising her franchise at polling booth number 122 in the Churah assembly constituency located in Chamba district.

Despite the Election Commission of India (ECI) providing a voluntary facility to all 80 plus voters to vote through ballot papers at their homes, Devi preferred to exercise her franchise via the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at the polling station.

Catch live updates of Himachal Pradesh polls here

There are a total of 5,592,828 registered voters in the state, of which, as many as 121,409 are above the age of 80, including 1,136 centenarians.

This comes after on November 5, the first citizen of independent India to ever cast a vote - Shyam Saran Negi - passed away at the age of 106 at his residence in Kinnaur district of the northern hill state. His demise was condoled by several people, including Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jairam Thakur.

However, the late centenarian cast his final vote for the assembly polls via postal ballot on November 2. “This memory will always be emotional… May God give his virtuous soul a place at his feet and provide support to the bereaved family members. Om shanti,” Thakur tweeted.

Kinnaur deputy commissioner had felicitated Negi at his residence, and the Election Commission of India (ECI) also mourned his death, calling him a “man with exceptional faith in democracy”.

Polling in the assembly polls commenced at 8am earlier in the day and will continue till 5pm. Several political heavyweights, including ruling BJP chief JP Nadda, Thakur, Union minister Anurag Thakur along with his father and former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and state's Congress chief Pratibha Singh, among others, have already cast their votes.

Before the polling process began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all voters to turn up in large numbers and “participate with full enthusiasm” in the “festival of democracy” and create a “new record” by casting their votes. He also sent “special wishes” to first-time voters in the state.

Union home minister Amit Shah appealed to all “mothers, sisters and youth” of the hill state to cast their votes in maximum number and elect a “strong government” in Himachal Pradesh.

Visuals shared on social media since morning showed voters braving deep snow, especially in Kangra and Chamba districts that witnessed fresh snowfall on Friday, to reach polling booths for casting their votes.

As many as 412 candidates are in the fray for 68 assembly constituencies in the state. The BJP is looking to remain in power for a second consecutive term, while the Congress party is eyeing a comeback. Since 1982, alternative governments have ruled the state. In 2017, the BJP registered a landslide victory in the northern hill state, winning 44 of the 68 seats, with Congress managing only 21.

The counting of votes of the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections will be held on December 5.

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    A journalist with 7+ years of experience, I pretty much inhale and exhale news – figuratively speaking. Cooking, reading and playing with my dog take up the remaining hours of my normal day. I have an inclination for true crime stories, and love listening to such podcasts.

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